Tactical Takeaways from (a Very Chilly) Inman Connect New York 2019
Roundup! Our opinions on what to take home, and what to take with a grain of salt.
Even the Polar Vortex couldn’t stop us from getting the most out of Inman Connect New York (#ICNY) this year! We certainly left with a notepad full of tactical tips and expert strategies. Thank you to all of the insightful speakers and to everyone that swung by our booth to chat about BoomTown and the role that technology plays in today’s real estate industry!
Whether you attended Inman Connect New York or not, we hope you’ll find this recap of our key takeaways to be a helpful guide for trucking through 2019 with a renewed sense of motivation to kick a$@!
If You Read Nothing Else, Read These 4 Pieces of Advice
1. Be an expert on what’s current and anticipate what’s to come
Real estate agents are expected to wear a million hats. It’s just the nature of the beast…you’re the expert, the friend, the counselor, the sales guru. This rang truer than ever at ICNY this year. To have an edge on the competition, you need to be an absolute expert in your local market. Know every stat, know every address, and have them at the tip of your tongue at all times.
This means going further than the average price point for a neighborhood and your standard demographics. Who is the principal at the local high school? Are the roads safe for pedestrians? Think outside of the box and be hungry for data.
Now, anticipating what’s to come is a tough piece of advice. You don’t have a crystal ball, and while you may play the role of superhuman, at the end of the day you are just human. But by being a hyper-local expert and staying on top of national trends, data and predictions, the anticipation factor will come naturally. You’ll be able to say to your clients, “I can tell you ABC about this neighborhood and this house, and based on my experience, I can predict XYZ.”
2. Roll out the red carpet: it is all about consumer experience
Real estate is a relationship business. Now more than ever we are hearing how critical it is to go beyond the standard level of “good customer service.” Consumer demand is ramping up as home buyers grow more accustomed to a streamlined, simple process.
A classic case of “you get what you give,” it seems that the agents that are putting in the extra 10% to give a VIP experience are reaping the benefits tenfold. This could mean hiring an additional team member to act exclusively as a client “concierge.” Or hosting a dinner club for past clients and allowing them to bring guests. (Free dinner for them – new leads for you.)
So consider this. What are you doing in your business to ensure that your clients are getting the red carpet experience? Are you asking enough questions? Write down 3 things that separate your consumer experience from the next agent. If you’re not doing enough to differentiate yourself, you might need to invest more time and energy into customer service in 2019.
3. You’ve heard it before, but it’s time to be the tech-enabled agent
Real estate technology is not only here to stay, but additionally, the ecosystem is rapidly evolving. New tools and features continue to improve the consumer and the agent experience alike. The trick is to find a balance between utilizing the technology that will help you grow your business while not getting swept away in “new and shiny syndrome” (trying every single new tool, app, and platform and losing sight of the fundamentals).
Use these 3 steps to make sure you are being empowered by tech.
- 1. Audit what you have.
- 2. Test and measure the ROI.
- 3. Nix (what’s not working), keep (what is working), and/or add (what you need to meet your goals).
4. Perfect the fundamentals
Okay, okay, I know we just told you to stay ahead of the curve, embrace technology, etc. etc. But you cannot forget the core fundamentals of being a good real estate agent! One resounding takeaway from Inman Connect New York was that successful agents have not only taken advantage of the technology that will help them dominate their market, but they are also phenomenally skilled at one thing — selling real estate.
What we mean is, through it all, it is important to never lose sight of the fundamentals of real estate. A people business. A sales business. You are never too far along in your business to practice scripts, to watch a webinar, or to hire a coach. If something feels off and you’re not hitting your goals, check in with the fundamentals first and see if there is a foundational skill that you could use improvement.
The Industry is Abuzz with the Market Shift. So What Gives?
The shifting market was a major focus at Inman Connect New York and continues to be a hot topic in the days and weeks following. So what do is at all mean for your business?
As a quick recap, here are the “Top 10 Trends Agents Need to Know in a Shifting Market”
- 1. Brokers embrace distinct technology as a core service offering to agents
- 2. Lending standards continue to ease
- 3. Search as a commodity (used to be a differentiator, now standard)
- 4. Focus on improving the transaction
- 5. Rise of short term rental investors
- 6. Performance analytics (consumers are measuring agent capabilities, becoming more choosey)
- 7. Minimalist lifestyle gains popularity (downsizing, remove clutter)
- 8. Predictive analytics and business prioritization
- 9. Diversified content offering
- 10. Great customer service takes on a new meaning
While the market shift was a hot topic at Inman Connect New York, rejoice in the fact that nobody seems to be too nervous about the shift. There was no “doomsday energy” to be found. In fact, quite the opposite. A fair amount of agents and brokers alike are excited for the shift and moving towards a more normalized market. Particularly if the shift opens up more opportunities for buyers.
Be smart with your budget. Track and measure everything and tweak your business model if there are processes that are throwing your profitability off track.
As we mentioned before when discussing the fundamentals (back-to-basics) of real estate, it’s more important than ever, in a shifting market, to focus on relationships. Often real estate agents have to play the “counselor” role, and the agents that can perfect this skill are going to be the agents that can effectively educate and coach their leads to buy or sell.
Tips for Communcation “Counseling” in a Market Shift:
- Share Facts – always have detailed and valuable market information at-the-ready
- Listen – learn your client’s needs and fears
- Avoid Pitfalls – be aware of common transaction pitfalls (inspections, appraisals, loan approval), and take extra precautions throughout the process to avoid them
- Be Honest – don’t manipulate data to push a seller or buyer in a particular direction if you don’t genuinely think it’s in their best interest. (Be encouraging without being pushy)
How to Thrive in a Shifting Market? | Read More
Social Media & Video (We’ll Keep This Brief)
I overheard an Inman Connect New York attendee say, “If I hear one more person tell me to leverage video, I’m going to lose it.”
It’s been said over and over, so we’ll get straight to the point with just the most important things to note about social presence and video in 2019.
- Keep an eye on messaging apps and chatbots as they continue to gain popularity
- People don’t care about your last closing. People care about how you’re going to solve their problems.
- Even if you’re not getting “likes,” your content might still be effective at creating brand recognition. People are scroll-happy.
- Use an app that creates captions for your videos. Some stats show that 85% of users watch stories/videos without sound.
2019: The Year of Differentiation
Think of your favorite brands. Patagonia, YETI Coolers? Maybe it’s Starbucks, Apple, or RayBan. Every great brand has a brand story, which dictates everything else that brand touches. Marketing, communication, relationship-building. The story and the “mission” guide that brand.
Real estate is a people business, a customer service business, but at the end of the day, it’s also a business (and every business has a brand). A common theme on the Inman Connect stage was successful and unique businesses. They had something to differentiate themselves from the competition.
So this year do some introspection! You might already have a rock solid brand and a unique value proposition. But if you don’t, take some time to think about what really sets you apart from other agents. It could be something small, like telling jokes. (Maybe you’re the agent that leads with humor and makes people smile.) Or it could be something extremely unique, such as having a team that is made up completely of veterans or veteran spouses.
For a kickstart on building a strong brand story, check out Katie Lance’s slides from Inman Connect New York 2019: “How to Attract Your Dream Client Through Social Media and Storytelling”
Automation Nation! Time to Work Smarter (and Harder)
If there is one thing I noticed at Inman Connect New York, it’s that agents do not want to work less. This is a business of the hustle! The grind! The power-players, the rainmakers, and the movers and shakers!
That being said, automation is a major trend not because agents wants to “set it and forget it” and go on vacation. No, it’s a trend because agents want to automate the busy day-to-day tasks that are bogging them down so that they can get back to doing their thing – selling real estate! There are mundane office tasks that are essential for building a healthy book of business: following up with leads, digital advertising through Google and Facebook ads, reaching out to previous clients to solicit referrals. All of these things are important for a thriving business. But if you can delegate/hand-off that work or even better, automate it? You’re essentially doing double the productivity in the same amount of time.
Keep and Eye on These Top Tech Trends in 2019
Without getting wrapped up in “new-and-shiny syndrome,” take a look at some of the top trends in real estate tech right now. Whether it’s an app that could improve your productivity or a tool that might streamline the consumer experience, one of these tech trends could elevate your business.
- 1. Smart speakers (Alexa, Google Home)
- 2. “Dare to be original” with your website design (stand out)
- 3. Voice from smart speakers (Alexa flash briefings)
- 4. Before investing in something new, have a concrete plan
- 5. Siri (Start asking Siri some questions and explore how she can make your life easier)
- 6. Relationships matter
- 7. The video dilemma! (Don’t ignore the power of video because you’re afraid to be on camera)
- 8. Read the fine print (Be smart with data, listings, profile information and contract fine print)
- 9. Apple phone usage (monitor what you’re doing on your phone)
- 10. Collect your data, start recording everything
Dear Agents, Stay Focused on What Matters (While the Franchises Battle for Your Loyalty)
There are a lot of power-players on the Inman Connect stage. And a lot of those power players have one vested interest — their business. A common theme at ICNY this year was the on-stage battle between leaders over who provides the most value for their agents. From commission splits to culture, in-house digital marketing to complimentary CRM systems… the franchises continue to duke it out over what they believe matters most to their agents.
Reminiscent of college football rivalry, tensions can be high.
Our advice to you – whenever you are making a decision regarding switching to a new franchise, becoming (or shifting away from being) an independent brokerage, stay focused on YOU and your personal business goals.
In Conclusion, Lead With a Good Conscience and Get to Work
Leaving Inman Connect New York 2019, through all the noise and voices, there was one resounding message on my mind. It’s a back-to-basics, elementary school concept, but it’s often overlooked in the world of business. Do the right thing.
“Do the right thing” is one of BoomTown’s core values. Real estate is a people’s business. It’s about doing everything in your power to help people (not clients, not leads – people) make the best possible decision that they can regarding their home. One of the most important decisions in their life! Agents have the power to create an amazing experience for them, while building trust and understanding.
And in the end, karma does seem to play a part in this industry! The most successful, happiest real estate professionals seem to have one common thread – they’re in it for the right reasons, and that reason is to help people.